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Home | Articles | Ruth Light Braun, Klein's Dress Shop, Union Square

Ruth Light Braun (American, b. 1906)
Klein’s Dress Shop, Union Square
Circa 1928–1929
Conte crayon on paper, 11 x 8 1/2 inches
Courtesy of Hirschl & Adler Galleries; in Ruth Light Braun: New York
and Palestine, 1926–1933
, on view through April 27

At 95 years old, Ruth Light Braun, a Brooklyn-born artist, is herself a new discovery. With the exception of a small show decades ago, Braun has never shown her work publicly, or offered it for sale, until Hirschl & Adler mounted their current exhibition. Her drawings present a fascinating and nearly unique record of the appearances and aspirations of Jews in America and Palestine during the years 1926–1933, effectively documenting a generation of Jews before the events of the later 1930s and ’40s changed life forever.

Many of Braun’s portraits of New York Jews contain themes that reveal a yearning for upward mobility and a participation in the American dream, often presented in vignetted images, such as skyscrapers, in the background behind the sitter. Her urban sketches convey the working-class character of her subjects. In addition, Braun spent the period from August 1931 to January 1933 in Palestine, where she recorded everyday life and captured portraits of leading figures in the Zionist movement.

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